O.W.L.1: The Hairy Plodder Trail
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A multi-stage cache on park trails, mostly down-hill, leading to a tougher multi-stage.
Attention Hogwarts students. This is Professor McGonagle speaking. In order for you to become witches and wizards, you must pass a series of tests, called Ordinary Wizarding Levels, or O.W.L.'s. The Hogwarts faculty members have created a test course that you must complete in order to receive your first O.W.L. This course, which is set in the middle of a muggle park, will test your abilities to hide your activities from muggles while practicing your wizarding skills. It will test your mental and physical abilities. You will need to use your skills of observation, divination, and arithmancy.
This course consists of a number of hidden caches. The exact number of caches is a secret that you will need to discover and is one that you must not reveal to others. Locating these caches is your primary goal. To find them, you must use a magical wizarding device, based on Gryffindor's Pointing Spells, or GPS for short. This will get you within about 10-15 metres of the caches, but you must use your divination and observational skills to locate them. Mysterious wordly and otherworldly forces can affect the accuracy of this device, so do not trust it entirely. If it leads you into poisonous plants or up or down steep terrains, you are looking in the wrong place.
This course has been divided into 2 tests: O.W.L.1 and O.W.L.2. The first test, O.W.L.1 is shorter and suitable for younger students. It is physically much less demanding than the second test, O.W.L.2 (GCQ7KD), which requires a long, steep climb high up into the hills. O.W.L.2 should only be attempted by older students or students accompanied by older wizards. This will be described separately. The last cache in O.W.L.1 contains the information needed to start O.W.L.2. The total length of O.W.L.1 is over 0.4 kilometres, with a descent of as much as 27 metres.
While it is not a prerequisite, it is strongly recommended that you first take the "Hidden Secrets Trail" (GCP50Z) course nearby. Its starting point is an appropriate place to get to this course, and the final 2 caches in that one will put you in the proper position to begin this one. Also, it will provide practice in finding the O.W.L. caches, as they have some aspects in common.
Only the location of the first cache in O.W.L.1 will be revealed here. Once you find that cache, it will contain clues that will lead you to the next cache. Bring a notebook to take notes on the cache locations and hints. Adult wizards may need to bring their spectacles to read the clues. Each cache in turn will point you to the next cache until you reach the final cache. You may also find some hints scattered about. Once you find the final cache, you will have passed the first O.W.L. To prove that you found it, you must inscribe your name on the scroll in the cache. This cache also has room for you to trade very small magical items with other students, to commemorate your find. Each cache has a name. When reporting your experiences online, please refer to caches by name, not by number.
You must follow muggle rules while you are here. No broomstick-riding or apparating is allowed as this could be observed by muggles. You must plod through this course on foot or other means allowed by the park rules. The entire course is on existing trails, which you must take. Cutting through the Forbidden Forest is dangerous and strictly prohibited. Those who do so will face disqualification and a 150 point deduction from their houses. All the caches are only a short distance from the trail or other prepared surface. You are not allowed to damage the landscape, so use of the reducto curse and mobiliarbus, diffinido, and incendio spells are prohibited. You are not allowed to make trees and rocks disappear with the evanesco spell. As you will not know what the caches look like, the accio spell will not work. Invisibility charms have not been used on them, so the aparecium spell will not work. Your primary tools will be your wits, your powers of observation, and your divination skills. Beware of hazards, such as venomous plants, serpents, and giant spiders. Do not attempt this at night, as werewolves and lions are known to hunt here after dark. Remember to conceal your activities from muggles. Parts of this trail are exposed to the full rays of the sun. You may wish to bring a hat, but do not wear a witch's or wizard's hat.
Including the Hidden Secrets Trail and O.W.L.2, the total length of the 3 courses is 2.8 kilometres one-way with a maximum change in altitude of 158 metres. Plan your time accordingly should you choose to do them all at once.
Good luck, students.
While knowledge of Hogwarts is certainly useful, it not an absolute requirement. For example, visiting wizards, witches, and students from Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, or Salem should still be able to be able to find the caches, even though they may not understand all the Hogwarts references.
Final cache contains: logsheet, pen, magic stones
1/7/12 update: replaced a muggled stage. To improve muggle-resistance, redundant caches have been added.
9/2/13 A wizard's duel appears to have wreaked havoc with the first clue. It has been repaired and relocated, with a hint-less backup nearby. There is no need to leave the safety of the trail to retrieve either.
9/29/14 Due to nearby construction, the first stage has been relocated.
11/28/14 2 previously muggled clue caches mysteriously reappeared. They now join their replacements, meaning there are 4 redundant clues at this stage.
1: jung ner jnaqf znqr bs? 2: Yrnir ab fgbar haghearq va lbhe dhrfg sbe gur pyhr.
3: Erzrzore gur yrtraq bs gur fjbeq va gur fgbar.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum